ua en ru

Understanding conjunctivitis: Causes, symptoms, and prevention

Understanding conjunctivitis: Causes, symptoms, and prevention Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

The eyes are an important organ for a person - they provide us with about 80% of the information about the world. However, these organs are very vulnerable to external factors and sensitive to pathologies, including inflammatory processes, according to the medical community website Take Care of Yourself.

What is known about conjunctivitis

Family doctor Daryna Dmytrievska explains that conjunctivitis is an inflammatory condition of the mucous membrane of the eyes (conjunctiva). This membrane can be seen on the inner surface of the eyelids.

In normal conditions, it has a pale pink color with tiny blood vessels visible. The membrane contains the normal amount of moisture, which bathes the eye when you blink.

However, when inflammation develops, the following changes occur:

  • Redness of the conjunctiva
  • Swelling
  • Watery discharge
  • Itching or pain
  • Sensation of 'grit in the eyes'
  • Yellowish discharge that dries and 'glues' the eyelashes during sleep
  • General discomfort symptoms, such as a fever and headache

Can vision be affected by the disease?

Conjunctivitis itself does not directly affect visual function. However, the ability to see normally can be temporarily impaired due to itching, swelling, and other inflammatory processes during the illness.

Inflammation can be triggered by various factors, most commonly allergies or infections (viral or bacterial). It is important to always determine the cause of the disease because the treatment and course of action will differ in each case.

Allergic conjunctivitis occurs from time to time in people with increased sensitivity, for example, to pollen or other substances. Symptoms of the allergic process decrease and go away if the triggering factor is avoided.

Viral conjunctivitis is contagious to anyone who comes into contact with the affected person. Eye inflammation is often one of the symptoms of viral diseases such as COVID-19 and others.

What can be harmful?

Conjunctivitis can also develop due to dry eyes (for example, during prolonged computer work) or injuries (foreign objects, dust, sand entering the eyes). In such cases, it is advisable to consult an ophthalmologist.

If sand, small debris, or similar foreign matter gets into the eyes, it should be flushed with a large amount of clean, cool water. After that, artificial tears can be used.